There are lots of books out there about expats and how to best deal with expat life and the challenges it brings. I read many of them, but I find that usually I cannot relate for one reason or another. Perhaps because I did not move with a travelling spouse or the fact that I do not have children and face the special problems that that brings with it. The Emotionally Resilient Expat by Linda Janssen was the exception.
Occasionally when I read a book I may find one sentence, one phrase that sticks in my mind. This book is jam packed with words which resonated deeply with me and made me stop and think. It is a combination of extensive research (I think Janssen must have read every book and academic paper on the subject), her own personal experiences and experiences of many other expats as they candidly reveal their innermost feelings to different situations. It is raw and honest and I could not read it without stirring up my emotions, some of which have been buried for over a decade.
Here are just a few of the phrases which made me stop in my tracks and give me that “Oh My God” moment.
The book deals with culture shock and the whole subject of where is home:
“For you, my child, I wish you two things: to give you roots and give you wings.”
I think all expats have the wings, it can just be a little hard sometimes to work out where the roots are or how we feel when we are uprooted. Where is home?
When it comes to cultural differences, once again, reading this book affirms my beliefs but at the same time makes me think.
“A pre-requisite to be part of the culture you live in is to bond with it and not reject it when you see something you don’t like or feel doesn’t fit in with your values. By rejecting it the only one you isolate is you.”
It isn't easy all the time to bond with the culture of the Dominican Republic, but I know it is only when you do bond that you really reap the rewards, and once again Janssen realises this as she quotes a contributor:
“I have learned compassion and tolerance. I have learned patience and being non judgmental.”
She talks about blogging as well and made me realise that my blog is not just for me but for others:
“Most people dream about living in a foreign land, but it remains that, a dream. We owe it to them to show them a world they might not get to experience otherwise.”
The book has a logical structure and slowly everything is pulled together to culminate in a series of very practical tips to ensure emotional resilience and to get the very most out of every day. When you finish it you cannot help but feel more positive and uplifted. You can choose to be optimistic – one of the great attractions of Dominicans:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
I just loved this book. It is not one to be read at one sitting but every time you pick it up you learn more about yourself, you gain affirmation about how you coped in the past and how you are coping now. And most of all you feel your emotional resilience getting stronger to enable you to cope with whatever the expat life can throw at you. This book is not a ‘nice to have’ it is simply a definite ‘must have’ for every single expat.